As I have been reading the denunciations of Obama’s “weakness” on Syria, I have wondered how many Americans want the U.S. to be more involved in responding to the crackdown there. Just how unrepresentative are the “do something” brigades this time? Apparently, they are extremely unrepresentative. About one in ten wants greater involvement (via Scoblete):
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just nine percent (9%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the United States should get more directly involved in the Syrian crisis. Sixty-five percent (65%) say America should leave the situation alone. But one-in-four voters (25%) aren’t sure.
Looking through the crosstabs, I see that there is no demographic group in which support for more direct involvement exceeds 15%. Ideological identification and party affiliation make no difference. Conservatives and Republicans are just as uninterested in greater U.S. involvement as all other political groups. Hardly anyone in America believes that the U.S. should be more directly involved. Perhaps some of them understand that there isn’t very much that the U.S. can profitably or constructively do in Syria. Whatever the reason, there is essentially no meaningful public support for doing more than what the administration is currently doing, which can accurately be described as not much beyond targeted sanctions.
Contrary to a lot of nonsense that people were saying two months ago on Libya, this is not a betrayal of “who we are.” The Syrian regime’s brutality is deplorable and awful, but Michael Young is completely wrong to say that the U.S. will bear “partial responsibility” for that brutality. Young wrote, “The White House’s uncertainty can be measured in human lives.” This is absurd, because it is quite clear that there is nothing that the U.S. or any other Western government could have said and followed through on that would have deterred Assad from what he is doing now.
The U.S. bears responsibility for many things, but this isn’t one of them. Arguably, the conduct of allied governments subsidized or defended by the U.S. reflects on America, and the U.S. bears some partial responsibility for enabling or tolerating the behavior of allied regimes. When rival or pariah states react to perceived U.S. provocations, the U.S. has some responsibility for contributing to the escalation of tensions. The U.S. cannot reasonably be held responsible when repressive governments engage in repression.